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Southern African Development Community (SADC)

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The Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference, SADCC, the forerunner of the SADC, the Community, was established in April 1980 by Governments of the nine Southern African countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The formation of SADC was the culmination of a long process of consultations by the leaders of Southern Africa. Towards the end of the 1970's, it became clear to the leaders of the region that just having a national flag and a national anthem would not meet the needs of the people for improved living standards.

Secondly, the positive experiences gained in working together in the group of Frontline States, to advance the political struggle, had to be translated into broader co-operation in pursuit of economic and social development.

From 1977, active consultations were undertaken by representatives of the Frontline States, culminating in a meeting of Foreign Ministries of the Frontline States in Gaborone, in May 1979, which called for a meeting of ministers responsible for economic development.

That meeting was subsequently convened in Arusha, Tanzania, in July 1979. The Arusha meeting led to the birth to the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference a year later.

The SADCC or the conference, was formed with four principal objectives, namely:

  • to reduce Member States dependence, particularly, but not only, on apartheid South Africa
  • to implement programmes and projects with national and regional impact;
  • to mobilise Member States' resources, in the quest for collective self-reliance; and
  • to secure international understanding and support.

These objectives were pursued with determination and vigour. Through SADCC, the founding fathers sought first to demonstrate the tangible benefits of working together, and to cultivate a climate of confidence and trust among member States.

SADC has developed since then, to become a organisation that has a Programme of Action, covering several broad economic and social sectors, namely, Energy, Tourism, Environment and Land Management, Water, Mining, Employment and Labour, Culture, Information and Sport and Transport and Communications.

Other sectors are Finance and Investment, Human Resource Development, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Legal Affairs and Health. Sectors are each co-ordinated by a Member State with some member states co-ordinating more than one sector.

Over the past two years SADC has undertaken an exercise to restructure its institutions and a report on this was adopted by an Extra-Ordinary Summit on March 9, 2001 in Windhoek, Namibia. This restructuring was necessitated by the number of difficulties and constraints encountered in the process of moving the organisation from a coordinating conference into a Community. These include:

  • Inadequate institutional reforms to enable the effective transformation from SADCC (Coordinating Conference) to SADC (the Community). Furthermore, the resource provision and the management system were not adequately addressed.
  • The need to put in place appropriate mechanisms capable of translating the high degree of political commitment to shape the scope and scale of community building through regional integration. This implies delegating authority and strengthening the capacity for decision-making to the relevant agencies responsible for implementing the SADC agenda.
  • Lack of synergy between the objectives and strategies of the Treaty on one hand and the existing SADC Programme of Action (SPA) and the institutional framework on the other.
  • Limited capacity to mobilize significant levels of the region's own resources for the implementation of its Programme.
  • The external financial overdependence of the SADC Programme of Action (SPA) to the tune of more than 80 percent, which compromises the Programme's sustainability.

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This transformation occurred in August 1992, when the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference met in Windhoek, Namibia, to sign a Declaration and Treaty establishing the new SADC - the Southern African Development Community.

The SADCC leaders had come to realise that although the co-ordination conference had served them well and had demonstrated the crucial need to cooperate in their development efforts, time had come to give the Organisation a legal and more formal status.

There was also a need to shift the focus of the organisation from co-ordination of development projects to a more complex task of integrating the economies of member States. Hence the Treaty, which is the blueprint for building a Community of Southern African states.

SADC and its member States are expected to act according to the following principles:

  • Sovereign equality of all member States;
  • Solidarity, peace and security;
  • Human rights, democracy, and the rule of law;
  • Equity, balance and mutual benefit;
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes

The objectives of SADC are to:

  • Achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration;
  • Evolve common political values, systems and institutions;
  • Promote and defend peace and security;
  • Promote self-sustaining development on the basis of collective self-reliance, and the interdependence of Member States;
  • Achieve complementarity between national and regional strategies and programmes;
  • Promote and maximise productive employment and utilisation of resources of the Region;
  • Achieve sustainable utilisation of natural resources and effective protection of the environment;
  • Strengthen and consolidate the long standing historical, social and cultural affinities and links among the people of the Region.

The ultimate objective of SADC, the Community is, therefore, to build a Region in which there will be a high degree of harmonisation and rationalisation to enable the pooling of resources to achieve collective self-reliance in order to improve the living standards of the people of the region.

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In deciding on the Conference's institutions, the Founding Fathers were particularly sensitive to the lessons and experiences of past attempts at regional co-operation in Africa, some of which had ended in dismal failure and bitter disappointment. Such failures were largely because sensitive issues of how best to equitably share the costs and benefits of regional co-operation had not been sufficiently addressed and agreed upon at both national and regional levels.

To avoid similar pitfalls, SADC from the very beginning placed particular emphasis on a decentralised institutional arrangement that would ensure that member States are the principal actors in the formulation and implementation of policy decisions.

However, under the new restructuring exercise, it has become clear that there are a number of problems that inhibit the efficient and effective performance of the current structure and these include:

  • Inadequate provision of resources and staffing by member States which has led to inequitable distribution of responsibilities and obligations.
  • Different management and administrative procedures and rules, varying standards, qualifications and performance criteria for staff involved in the management of the Regional Programme.
  • Rapid increase of Sectors and therefore a plethora of priorities and activities dependent on limited resources which has led to a proliferation of meetings and an increase in associated costs.
  • Under the current structure and circumstances, the Secretariat has been unable to execute its mandate as provided for in the Treaty, especially that of undertaking strategic planning and management.
  • Lack of an institutional framework in which Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs in the SADC region could discuss and adopt common positions on matters pertaining to the organization in various international fora.

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The principal institutions of SADC following the adoption by THE extra-Ordinary Summit of the Report on the Restructuring of SADC Institutions are as follows:

  • SUMMIT - made up of Heads of State and/or Government, the Summit is the ultimate policy-making institution of SADC. It is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the Community. The Summit usually meets once a year around August/September in a member State at which a new Chairperson and Deputy are elected. Under the new structure, it is recommended that Summit meets twice a year. The current Chairperson of SADC is President Sam Nujoma of Namibia and the Deputy Chairperson is President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi. More functions of the Summit are enumerated under Article 10 of the SADC Treaty.
  • THE TROIKA - the Extra-Ordinary Summit decided to formalise the practice of a Troika system consisting of the Chair, Incoming Chair and the Outgoing Chair of SADC which has been effective since it was established by Summit at its meeting in Maputo, Mozambique in August 1999. Other member States may be co-opted into the Troika as and when necessary. This system has enabled the Organisation to execute tasks and implement decisions expeditiously as well as provide policy direction to SADC Institutions in period between regular SADC meetings.

    The Troika system will operate at the level of the Summit, the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, Council and Standing Committee of Senior Officials.
  • ORGAN ON POLITICS, DEFENCE AND SECURITY - the Extra-Ordinary Summit adopted the Report of the Ministerial Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security which met on November 23, 2000 in Harare, Zimbabwe and addressed the following issues, pertaining to the Organ, in particular that:
    • The Organ should be coordinated at the level of Summit on a Troika basis and reporting to the Chairperson of SADC.
    • The Chairperson of the Organ shall be on a rotation basis for a period of one year.
    • The Member State holding the Chairpersonship of the Organ shall provide the Secretariat services.
    • The Chairperson of the Organ shall not simultaneously hold the Chair of the Summit.
    • The structure, operations and functions of the Organ shall be regulated by the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation which shall be submitted to Summit in Blantyre in August 2001 for approval and signature.
  • COUNCIL OF MINISTERS - the functions of Council should remain as provided for under Article 11 of the Treaty. The Council of Ministers consists of Ministers from each member State, usually from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Planning or Finance. The Council is responsible for overseeing the functioning and development of SADC and ensuring that policies are properly implemented. Council usually meets twice a year in January and just before summit in August or September. Under the new structure it is recommended that Council should meet four times a year.
  • INTEGRATED COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS - this is a new institution aimed at ensuring proper policy guidance, coordination and harmonization of cross-sectoral activities. The Integrated Committee of Ministers will perform the following functions:
    • To oversee the activities of the four core areas of integration notably: Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment; Infrastructure and Services; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR); Social and Human Development and Special Programmes, including the implementation of the Strategic Plan in their areas of competence.
    • Be constituted by least two Ministers from each Member State and should be responsible to Council.
    • Provide policy guidance to the Secretariat and make decisions on matters pertaining to the Directorates as well as monitor and evaluate their work.
    • Should have decision-making powers ad referendum to ensure rapid implementation of the programmes that otherwise would wait for a formal meeting of the Council.
    • Should monitor and control the implementation of the Regional Indicative Development Plan once approved by Council.
    • Take the role of Sectoral Committee of Ministers that has been abolished.
  • TRIBUNAL - the Treaty also makes provision for a yet to be established Tribunal. A protocol to establish the Tribunal was signed in Windhoek, Namibia during the 2000 Ordinary Summit. Once established, the Tribunal will ensure adherence to, and proper interpretation of the provisions of the SADC Treaty and subsidiary instruments, and to adjudicate upon disputes, referred to it.
  • SADC NATIONAL COMMITTEES - these Committees shall be composed of key stakeholders notably government, private sector and civil society in member States. Their main functions will be to provide inputs at the national level in the formulation of regional policies, strategies, SPA as well as coordinate and oversee the implementation of the these programmes at the national level. The Committees shall also be responsible for the initiation of projects and issue papers as an input to the preparation of the Regional Indicative Development Plan.
  • STANDING COMMITTEE OF SENIOR OFFICIALS - the functions of this Committee shall remain as provided for under Article 13 of the Treaty. The Standing Committee of Officials consists of one Permanent/Principal Secretary or an official of equivalent rank from each Member State, preferably from a ministry responsible for economic planning or finance. This Committee is a technical advisory committee to the Council.

    The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Standing Committee shall be appointed from the member States holding the Chairpersonship and Vice-Chairpersonship, respectively, of the Council.
  • SECRETARIAT - this is the principal executive institution of SADC responsible for strategic planning, co-ordination and management of SADC programmes. It is headed by an Executive Secretary and has its headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana.

    The Extra-Ordinary Summit agreed that the Secretariat should be strengthened in terms of both its mandate and the provision of adequate resources for it to be able to perform its functions effectively as provided for under Article 14 of the Treaty and consistent with the Abuja Treaty, as follows:
    • Strategic planning and management of the programme of SADC;
    • Implementation of the decisions of the Summit and Council;
    • Organization and management of the SADC meetings;
    • Financial and general administration;
    • Representation and promotion of SADC; and
    • Promotion and harmonization of policies and strategies of Member States.

      In addition, the Secretariat should perform the following functions:
    • Gender mainstreaming in all SADC programmes and activities;
    • Organization and servicing of the meetings of the Troika and any other committees established by the Summit, Council and the Troika on an ad-hoc basis;
    • Submission of harmonized policies and programmes to the Council for consideration and approval;
    • Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of regional policies and programmes;
    • Collation and dissemination of information on the community and maintenance of a reliable database;
    • Development of capacity, infrastructure and maintenance of intra-regional Information Communication Technology (ICT);
    • Mobilization of resources, co-ordination and harmonization of the programmes and projects with co-operating partners;
    • Devising appropriate strategies for self-financing and income generating activities and investment;
    • Management of special programmes and projects;
    • Undertaking of research on Community Building and the integration process.

      The Structure of Secretariat shall comprise the following:

      Office of the Executive Secretary:
    • Deputy Executive Secretary;
    • Department of Strategic Planning, Gender and Development and Policy Harmonization
    • Legal Affairs;
    • Internal Audit;
    • Information, Communication and Technology including statistics and library services;
    • Administration; and
    • Finance.

      The Department of Strategic Planning, Gender and Development and Policy Harmonization has been established in order to strengthen the Secretariat in executing its functions, particularly strategic planning, gender mainstreaming, management and harmonization of policies, and to address problems arising from the current parallel and independent structure of the Sector Coordinating Units.

      This department shall be composed of the following four Directorates under which the current 20-odd sectors will be clustered:
    • Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI);
    • Infrastructure and Services;
    • Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR);
    • Social and Human Development and Special Programmes.
  • COMMISSIONS AND SECTOR COORDINATING UNITS (SCUS) - the Extra-Orrdinary Summit agreed that SCUs and Commissions should be phased out within a period not exceeding two years. The process of phasing out should be accelerated for specific priority areas.

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The SPA is a totality of Sectoral Programmes, with their policy objectives, strategies and projects designed to realise the overall goals and objectives of SADC. The SPA has evolved over time in line with the priorities and challenges facing the organisation.

The number of projects under the SPA now stands at 407 with an estimated cost of US$8.09 billion. Approximately 90 per cent of this amount is from external sources and close to 50 per cent has already been secured.

Under the SPA, several protocols have been developed and signed in the areas of Shared Water Course Systems, Energy, Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking, Transport, Communication and Meteorology, Trade, Education and Training, Mining, Immunities and Privileges, Health, Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement, Tribunal and Legal Affairs. Most of these have been ratified and are at various stages of implementation.

The Trade Protocol is critical for SADC's integration process and entered into force on the 25th of January, 2000 following its ratification by the required number of member States. The implementation of this protocol was launched on 1st September 2000.

In addition to these protocols, the Summit has signed a Declaration on Gender and Development. This declaration calls for the equal representation of women and men in the decision making of member states and SADC Structures at all levels, and the achievement of at least 30 per cent target of women in political and decision-making structures by the year 2005. In addition, a Declaration on Productivity which commits member States to increase productivity in order to meet global competetiveness challenges was signed in August 2000.

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A lot has been achieved in SADC since its inception in April 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia. Some of the foremost achievements of SADC have been:

  • to demonstrate that regional co-operation is NOT only desirable but possible;
  • to inculcate a sense of regional belonging as well as a tradition of consultation among the people and governments of Southern Africa
  • to put in place a regional programme of action - the SADC Programme of Action - which covers cooperation in various economic sectors.
  • Under the SADC Programme of Action a number of infrastructural projects have been undertaken to rehabilitate roads, railway lines and harbours as well as the development through research of a number of seed various to cater for the different climatic conditions of the SADC Region.

These hard-earned achievements have provided a firm foundation without which any attempt at building a regional development community would have definitely failed.

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The stage is now set for the implementation of the Report on the Restructuring of SADC Institutions and the first directorate, the Trade, Finance, Industry and Investment directorate is expected to start operations at the Secretariat by August 2001. The second one, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources is expected to be established by December 2001. The others will be established during 2001.

The implementation of the Trade Protocol is on track and the region hopes to attain a free trade area by 2008.

The ultimate objective is to enable SADC to effectively address the developmental needs of the region and to position the region to meet the challenges of the dynamic, ever changing and complex globalisation process as well as to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation.

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